Inter-Agency Standing Committee - Standard Terms of Reference for Humanitarian Country Teams, February 2017



These standard Terms of Reference (ToR) for Humanitarian Country Teams (HCTs) are the foundation for developing country-specific HCT ToR that are adapted as necessary. The ToR define the roles and responsibilities for participation and functioning of HCTs. They also reinforce the reciprocal and mutual accountabilities of the Humanitarian Coordinator (HC) and HCT members.

The ToR build on the IASC Guidance for Humanitarian Country Teams and the IASC Terms of Reference for the Humanitarian Coordinator endorsed in 2009. They are also consistent with the commitments of the World Humanitarian Summit and Grand Bargain.


The Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) is led and chaired by the Humanitarian Coordinator (HC). The HCT’s overall goal is to ensure that inter-agency humanitarian action alleviates human suffering and protects the lives, the livelihoods and dignity of people in need. As the top inter-agency humanitarian leadership body in a country, the HCT’s primary purpose is to provide strategic direction for collective inter-agency humanitarian response.

The HCT makes decisions to ensure that country-level humanitarian action is well-coordinated, principled, timely, effective and efficient. It also ensures that adequate prevention, preparedness, risk and security management measures are in place and functioning.

The HCT is ultimately accountable to the people in need. The affected State retains the primary role in the initiation, organization, coordination, and implementation of humanitarian assistance within its territory. Whenever possible, the HCT operates in support of and in coordination with national and local authorities.